7 days out: Misunderstanding the Taper

My first meet is in exactly 7 days. The past month has been the toughest throughout this entire year of training, my morale was almost zero, my body was protesting with aches and pains, and didn’t help that I had to restrict my diet in order to make weight. (I had to lose about 3kg to qualify for my weight category.)

(Un)Fortunately, I fell ill a month back, and my weight dropped by about 4kg, and I’ve since only had to maintain my weight by eating moderately. Yay?

Waiting for The Gym Nation Strength Institute — a test of dedication

D and I train at this powerlifting gym called The Gym Nation (TGN). For most of our training, we trained at a branch nearer home and traveling time was at 40 minutes max by public transport. In July, the gym closed for a month to move to a new location, and we had to travel to the further branch (about 1.5h bus ride from home) for training, 4 times a week.

July was exactly when our peaking phase started, plus a hectic month at work. Every single day was a test of our commitment, but I’m really glad we pulled through.

Finally, TGNSI opened 1 August, and now we have been training comfortably 30–40 minutes away from home! The 1st level of TGNSI is an open concept, the entire shop front is bare with a small hinge gate.

Interestingly, while I was finishing my bench set today, a family of 4 were at the gate, looking. Coach S went out to speak to them, and we learnt that their 10 year old son is interested in lifting! :D The mum was also commenting to the dad saying “she’s so small but she can lift so much!”

In my defence, it really wasn’t a heavy weight but I was glad to have left an impression. It reminded me of the reason why I decided to start lifting and training seriously, but that’s a post for another day.

Realigning my expectations from peaking

I could accrue most of my disappointment from my ambitious expectations for the peaking cycle.

My previous 1RM earlier this year was:

  • S 85kg,
  • B 40kg,
  • D 107.5kg.

I was under the delusion of being able to achieve:

  • S 100kg,
  • B 52.5kg,
  • D 120kg

in just 3 months of training. I wasn’t sure what got into this stupid head of mine, but my morale thoroughly destroyed when I realized I wasn’t going to safely achieve those numbers anytime soon.

Still, there was progress for sure. And I had to convince myself that.

My bench 1RM became a 7RM, and my squat 1RM became a 2RM in my most recent training. Also because of a miscommunication while the weights were loaded today, I got an accidental PR of 95kg for my squats!

How does Tapering work?

To be honest, I was expecting my body to be able to lift exponentially more weights within a few weeks of magic. It’s only now that I’m going through it when I started reading more about it. In essence, tapering works with this simple graph:

From Juggernaut

High intensity and high volume training builds strength, but the fatigue puts the body in a sub-optimal condition to perform for a competition.

To allow ourselves to continue making gains, we’ve to first reduce volume in order to give our body time to recover, before cutting intensity nearer to the competition for full recovery.

During tapering, we worked a lot on hammering in the technique, the setup, the cues, and making sure it runs like clockwork. So that even during competition, when there are unfamiliar elements, our body will still be able to operate like how we’ve been training. Specificity is key.

I’ve not fully experienced the magic of tapering now that I’ve only completed my last heavy session for each lift. So I’m really excited to get on the platform to see how my body reacts to the tapering!

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